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EMI evolved from NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and was first introduced by Robert Dilts in 1981 as “Eye Movement Pattern Interruption Therapy”. It’s now known to be a powerful method that appears to tap into the mind’s natural ability to heal itself. Since its development, EMI has been promoting healthful integrations of traumatic memories by using guided eye movements to process the memories in a client’s experience.
EMI is a brief therapeutic approach that is an effective acute and post-therapy technique for treating acute and post-traumatic traumatic stress, as well as phobias, addiction symptoms, and negative or self-limiting thoughts.
When an individual is experiencing issues that are deeply rooted in distressing memories and experiences from the past, processing those memories is often a challenging, painful task.
While EMI and EMDR are quite similar, there are a few significant differences between the two. Both of these share the use of titrated imaginal exposure, eye movements, and attention to multisensory manifestations of distress.
However, the nature of these particular eye movements is distinctive in both cases:
Additionally, EMI uses 22 to 29 different EM patterns, while EMDR typically maintains the same pattern (or segment) until no more change is observed in the client’s responses; only then does the therapist revert to a different direction.
There are also some differences in the protocol during and between the segments, such as following whatever emerges from each segment in EMDR, while EMI invites the client to remain focused on the main trauma. EMDR has added tapping to its original technique; EMI does not include any tapping.
Unlike other methods, EMI tends to favor the client’s comfort levels and doesn’t require regression. It’s designed to avoid the concerns of false memory and/or the possibility of re-traumatizing the client.
Brainspotting (BSP) is a recently developed new type of therapy designed to help people access, process, and ultimately overcome trauma, negative emotions, and psychologically induced physical pain.
Brainspotting was first recognised through David Grand's work with survivors of trauma, and numerous mental health professionals utilising the approach have found it to be an effective form of treatment for a variety of conditions.
According to David Grand, the direction in which people look or gaze can affect the way they feel. Throughout the brainspotting process, therapists help individuals position their eyes in various ways that enable them to target the source of a negative emotion.
Using a pointer to assist them, trained Brainspotting therapists will carefully guide the eyes of people in therapy across their field of vision to find appropriate “brainspots,” with a brainspot being an eye position that activates a traumatic memory or painful emotion.
Practitioners of this therapeutic approach believe it allows therapists to access emotions on a deeper level and target the physical pain and effects of trauma.
There is increasing evidence that trauma is “stored” deep within the body and that it can alter the way the brain functions on a day to day basis. Trauma can, for example, have an effect on emotions, memory, and physical health. Brainspotting seems to activate the body’s innate ability to heal itself from these traumatic experiences.
While a therapist may attempt to access both the physical and emotional “locations” of negative emotions, Brainspotting therapists use something called the client's brain-body response (CBR) in therapy.
There is increasing evidence that Brainspotting works primarily on the limbic system, a collection of brain structures that play a role in emotion, long-term memory, cognition, motivation, impulse control, and several other psychological factors that can affect well-being.
Both Brainspotting and EMDR therapeutic approaches help individuals reprocess negative events and retrain emotional responses. Therapists are increasingly practicing Brainspotting and reporting positive results.
Brainspotting can help those with various mental health conditions and psychological concerns but is primarily used in treating trauma and PTSD.
However, anyone who has experienced either physical or emotional trauma may benefit from Brainspotting. This form of therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment option for those experiencing:
However, it’s also been shown to assist in injury recovery and help treat physical illness, stress, and low motivation. Some therapists believe psychological issues—such as anger, procrastination, and trouble concentrating, amongst many others, can be a result of trauma. Therefore, Brainspotting might be a particularly effective form of therapy for those individuals who wish to address one or more of these concerns.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based treatment that empowers people to heal from the emotional distress that results from traumatic life experiences. Widely recognised as highly effective, EMDR therapy enables people to process traumatic events quickly and find closure. Studies have repeatedly shown that after only a few sessions, patients can experience the same benefits that usually take years to achieve with talk therapy.
EMDR has established its effectiveness in treating trauma and PTSD in children and adults, alongside other mental health conditions such as:
Although some may prefer traditional treatments like medications and talk therapy, others may find that EMDR can accelerate the process of healing. EMDR therapy is considered a safe form of treatment and aims to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that promote healthy, positive change.
EMDR is widely recommended by many of the leading mental health organizations around the world. The treatment process consists of multiple phases, including:
Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning. The first phase of EMDR is a history-taking session, where you and your therapist will identify possible targets for therapy. With a greater understanding of you and your needs, your therapist will then develop a treatment plan that targets:
Phase 2: Preparation. During the second phase of EMDR, your therapist will guide you in learning different coping and relaxation strategies to handle emotional distress. These stress reduction techniques are meant for you to use during and between sessions. Since EMDR tends to produce rapid change, the goal is to maintain balance and equilibrium in your day-to-day life.
Phases 3-6: Assessment. During the third phase, you and your therapist will identify particular memories and the components associated with them, including:
Phases 4-7: Treatment. These phases focus on using EMDR therapy techniques to treat the targeted memories. While focusing on the mental image, emotion, or belief, your therapist will ask you to follow specific eye movements. These movements are also known as bilateral stimulation and can include other repetitive activities such as tapping.
Afterwards, your therapist will ask you to clear your mind and pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that arise spontaneously. Once they're identified, your therapist may direct your attention back to the traumatic memory and move forward with another.
In case you get distressed, your therapist will guide you in returning to the present moment. This process is repeated until the distress over specific thoughts, images, or memories starts to fade.
Phase 8: Evaluation. In the final phase of treatment, you'll examine your progress.